Restaurants & Nightlife

5 MINUTE READ

The best restaurants in St James’s

Words by Georgie Young

12 April 2024

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As well as palaces and parks, this central postcode also has lots of great places to eat – here’s our top 10.

Drinking, dining, and general revelry have always been part of St James’s – after all, it was known as ‘Clubland’ in the 19th century due to its high concentration of members’ clubs. Fast forward to the present day, and this small square between Mayfair and Covent Garden is still home to some of the city’s oldest (and best) restaurants – as well as a peppering of new places keeping things fresh. With that in mind, here are ten of our current favourites.

Gouqi

It’s when you’re mid-way through your third plate of Peking duck that you realise something: Gouqi is rather special. The first solo venture from Hakkasan’s ex-Executive Chef, Tong Chee Hwee, Gouqi (pronounced ‘goji’, like the berry) is a masterclass in Chinese fine dining – from succulent prawns bathed in XO sauce to the aforementioned duck, which is slow-cooked for 48 hours and served in three separate stages. But there’s also plenty of pizzazz if you want it – the décor is high-drama, the dim sum is garishly bright (and gloriously flavoured), and dessert quite literally arrives in a puff of smoke.

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25–34 Cockspur St, SW1Y 5BN

Arlington

Haven’t you heard? Jeremy King is back – as is the restaurant everyone used to know as Le Caprice. Newly reborn as Arlington, it’s the first of three restaurants King plans to open this year – and is already the place that everybody who’s anybody wants to be seen in. The menu treads the line between newness and nostalgia, offering classics such as bang bang chicken and salmon fish cakes as well as additions like lobster thermidor souffle – sophisticated comfort food at its finest.

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20 Arlington St, SW1A 1RG

Wild Honey

It shouldn’t be a surprise to see a huge honeycomb heading towards you at a restaurant called Wild Honey. But by the time you reach that point (dessert, in case you were wondering), you’ll be so full of modern British cooking that remembering your own name might be difficult, let alone the restaurant’s. Helmed by MasterChef finalist Anthony Demetrus, the kitchen prioritises locally sourced ingredients, turning out things like Sutton Hoo chicken crowned with truffle and venison with dates and Armagnac. And the honey? Sourced from Bermondsey and piled onto vanilla ice cream.

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8 Pall Mall, SW1Y 5NG

45 Jermyn Street

Buzzing and bright, this fun-loving restaurant is the epicurean extension of Fortnum & Mason – find it by looking for the orange awning on Jermyn Street. It’s had a caviar trolley in operation since it opened as Fortnum’s Fountain Restaurant in 1955, but that’s not the only extravagance found here. Beef wellingtons and lobster spaghetti are flambéed at the table, you can have crumpets topped with duck eggs for breakfast, and the ‘afters’ menu includes a knickerbocker glory and a selection of floats.

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45 Jermyn St, SW1Y 6DN

Maison Francois

Despite what the grand rail station-like décor might have you believe, you’re not in Paris. You’re in MasterChef finalist Matthew Ryle’s all-day brasserie on Duke Street, which is so French you’ll need to know your poulet from your poisson to stand a chance of understanding the menu. To help you out: the tableside tartare is a must-order, and don’t miss a visit to the multi-tiered pudding trolley, which practically groans under the weight of éclairs, tarte tatin, and macarons.

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34 Duke St, SW1Y 6DF

The Wolseley

This is the restaurant that made Jeremy King into, well, Jeremy King. It’s a grand, all-day brasserie next to The Ritz offering French-inspired dishes in a Viennese-inspired dining room – think high ceilings and swathes of marble. It’s known for its breakfast (the mustard kippers are a must), but lunch and dinner are equally impressive, with the menus featuring everything from oysters and caviar to schnitzel and snails. The wine list is particularly good – impress your co-diners by pre-ordering a bottle of your favourite Champagne to pop when you arrive.

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160 Piccadilly, W1J 9EB

Fallow

You don’t get much more locally sourced than eating mushrooms in the dining room they were grown in. But cast aside preconceptions of said dining room being a muddy potting shed: this is the lavish navy-and-marble Fallow on Haymarket. Embracing the unexpected is part and parcel of a meal here – whether you’re starting with an oyster shell martini or braving the smoked cod’s head as a main. Plus, the entire thing is underpinned by a strong sustainability ethos, hence the fish heads and mushrooms – the latter of which shines as a rich, creamy parfait.

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52 Haymarket, SW1Y 4RP

The Ritz Restaurant

It feels almost redundant to write a description of the Ritz. But on the off chance there’s anyone left out there who hasn’t heard of Britain’s most famous hotel, here’s what you can expect from its restaurant. The best word to describe it is opulent – chandeliers glitter off gold leaf statues and massive pink columns, whilst white-gloved waiters dart across the carpet to deliver seven courses of John Williams MBE’s Michelin-starred French fare. Don’t forget your dinner jacket – this is one of the few remaining London restaurants to have a dress code.

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150 Piccadilly St, W1J 9BR

Bardo St James’s

It’s not just the food that’ll transport you to Italy at Bardo St James’s – although dishes like tagliata di tonna and tagliolini al tartufo do a stellar job at making you feel like you’re somewhere on the Riviera. The music is also quintessentially Italian, with a live band taking to the stage every evening to perform Italian classics like Tuo Vuo’ Fa’ l’Americano. You could almost be in a small trattoria in Florence – if said trattoria was covered in marble, had a walk-in wine cellar, and served a six-course tasting menu, of course.

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4 Suffolk Pl, SW1Y 4HX

Mistress of Mayfair

Despite its name, this sultry lounge can be found skulking on St James’s Street – but, we suppose, ‘Mistress of St James’s’ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. It’s a Parisian-inspired restaurant and members’ lounge serving French classics with a side of disco – the oysters nouveau, served with Champagne and pickled apple, are particularly good. Wondering what to wear? Take cues from the décor – anything velvet, pink, or leather will do. 

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48–49 St James's St, SW1A 1JT

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Georgie Young

As our Digital Editor, Georgie writes about all types of luxury – whether that’s deep dives into London restaurant trends, interviews with famous faces, or travelogues from all over the world.

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